Trump: I’ve accomplished more in my first 500 days than any other president

President Trump on Monday touted his first 500 days in the White House, saying “many believe” he has achieved more than any of his predecessors in that same time frame.

“This is my 500th. Day in Office and we have accomplished a lot – many believe more than any President in his first 500 days,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump pointed to the GOP tax cuts, “lower crime,” passing the “right to try” bill, his confirmed judicial appointments and his immigration policy as accomplishments.

“Massive Tax & Regulation Cuts, Military & Vets, Lower Crime & Illegal Immigration, Stronger Borders, Judgeships, Best Economy & Jobs EVER, and much more,” he added.

[The Hill]

Reality

Not really.

Trump made a series of claims about his first 500 days in office, celebrating his economic policies, touting his success in adding jobs, and claiming to have made communities safer.

‘America’s economy is stronger … thanks to President Trump’s pro-growth agenda’

CLAIM “Three million jobs have been created since Trump took office,” booms Trump’s news release. He made the same claim at a rally in April.

REALITY What Trump does not tell people is that the rate of job creation under him is actually slower than the last four years under Obama. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.188m jobs were added in 2017. Obama added 2.3m in 2013, 2.99m in 2014, 2.71m in 2015, and 2.24m in 2016.

Trump claimed that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8%. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did indeed report the unemployment rate for May was 3.8%.

But what Trump ignores is that the unemployment rate is declining in part because of large numbers of people leaving the workforce rather than getting jobs. The percentage of workers in jobs or looking for work dropped from 62.9% in March, to 62.8% in April to 62.7% in May. Those levels have not been seen since the 1970s.

CLAIM “American families received $3.2tn in gross tax cuts.”

REALITY Trump has been making this claim since 2017, when he signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law. In fact, the bill delivers $1.5tn in tax cuts – and that number includes cuts that corporations will receive.

The disparity is because Trump does not include aspects of the bill which will actually increase taxes. Factcheck.org pointed out that the non-partisan joint committee on taxation estimates the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will result in $1.456tn less in taxes over the next 10 years.

Some of that comes from the corporate income tax rate being cut from 35% to 21%, while the tax rate for wealthy individuals has been cut from 39.6% to 37%. The tax cut for corporations is permanent; the tax cuts for individuals will expire in 2026.

The bill is projected to add $1.46tn to the nation’s debt over the next decade. And the Washington thinktank the Center for American progress predictsthat Trump will save $11m to $15m a year under the tax bill, while Jared Kushner will save between $5m and $12m per year.

CLAIM “President Trump has rolled back unnecessary job-killing regulations such as the Clean Power Plan.”

REALITY Trump hails the government’s October 2017 decision to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama and was designed to cut US carbon dioxide emissions by 32% by 2030.

The Environmental Protection Agency had previously estimated the plan would prevent 90,000 child asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year by 2030.

While Trump claims the Clean Power Plan has already been rolled back, as of May 2018 the EPA was yet to finalize its repeal, and 19 states are challengingthe government’s move to scrap the plan – giving hope that Trump and Pruitt could be thwarted, or at least delayed.

‘America is winning on the world stage’

CLAIM “The president has taken action to confront aggression by Iran and its proxies.”

REALITY Trump has withdrawn from the landmark international deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme. In doing so he drew condemnation from the leaders of the UK, Germany and France, who made clear that Iran was abiding by the terms of the agreement.

‘America’s government is more accountable’

CLAIM “President Trump has confirmed the most circuit court judges of any president in their first year.”

REALITY Unfortunately for those not aligned with the president’s political views, this is correct. Republicans have rushed through the appointment of 21 such judges, and Trump plans to add 20 more by the end of 2018.

Most of those appointments are white men, and almost one-third have anti-LGBT records. The majority of Trump’s appointments are under 50 – meaning they could influence decision-making in the US for decades to come.

‘America’s communities are safer and more secure’

CLAIM Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Ice – has “made 110,568 arrests of illegal aliens – a 42% increase for the same timeframe in 2016”.

REALITY There is no mention of the disruption this has had on communities across the country – and on the terrible toll Trump’s actions have had on families.

Between 6 and 19 May, 658 children were taken away from their parents at the border, after the Trump administration announced that parents detained while entering the US without documentation would be separated from their children and prosecuted.

Trump imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies and Europe retaliates

President Trump followed through on a threat to impose steep metal tariffs on U.S. allies Thursday, a long-awaited decision that analysts said moved the country closer to a trade war.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Canada, Mexico and the European Union would be subject to a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum beginning at midnight on Thursday. Brazil, Argentina and Australia agreed to limit steel exports to the U.S. to avoid tariffs, he said.

“The president’s overwhelming objective is to reduce our trade deficit,” Ross said.

The decision was the latest by the Trump administration to project a more protectionist stance amid ongoing trade negotiations with China and other countries. But it drew a sharp rebuke and promises of retaliation from longstanding allies.

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. “These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States.”

European trade officials have previously threatened to respond to Trump’s move with  duties on U.S.-made motorcycles, orange juice and bourbon, among other things. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, reiterated that position Thursday, saying Europe would impose duties on “a number of imports from the U.S.”

“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” he said.

The Mexican economic ministry said it would move to place tariffs on U.S.-made pork, flat steel, apples, cheese and other products.

Trump announced the tariff and aluminum tariffs in early March but offered temporary exemptions to the European Union, Canada, Mexico and a number of other allies. He extended those exemptions in late April, noting at the time it would be the “final” delay unless the countries agreed to other concessions.

“We are awaiting their reaction,” Ross said of the other countries. “We continue to remain quite willing, indeed eager, to continue discussions.”

The move promoted criticism from a number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially those with large agricultural industries.

“This is dumb,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents.”

The decision comes days after the Trump administration announced $50 billion of new tariffs on Chinese imports, after officials had earlier said it was “putting the trade war on hold” with Beijing. Ross is set to travel to China this weekend to continue trade talks.

The Trump administration has relied on a 1962 law that allows countries to impose trade restrictions for national security purposes. The president has also justified the tariffs by pointing out “shuttered plants and mills” and the decades-long slide of manufacturing.

Several analysts said they are concerned the approach will have the opposite effect.

“The initial blows in the trade wars have finally landed,” said Eswar S. Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and a professor at Cornell University. “It is now clear that Trump’s threats about trade sanctions are more than just bluster and are to be taken seriously.”

Prasad said the hard line approach might net Trump some short-term wins, but said “it could eventually result in the U.S. playing a diminished” role in global trade.

“He doesn’t have a strategy that’s going to lead to making American manufacturing great again,” said Robert Scott, a trade expert at the Economic Policy Institute. “There will continue to be a series of tit-for-tat battles.”

The U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel last year, a 15% increase from 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Canada was the top source of U.S. imported steel, accounting for 77%, according to the International Trade Administration. Mexican steel accounts for about 9% of U.S. imports.

The majority of that metal is used in construction, auto manufacturing and appliances.

The tariffs, as well as export controls agreed to by Brazil and others, will raise the price of steel and aluminum in the U.S., making domestic producers more competitive while adding to the price buyers of the metals must pay.

“We think that’s going to put the industry in real peril,” said Jerry Howard, president of the National Association of Home Builders. “We were very excited by the tax bill, but it turns out the tax bill giveth, and tariffs taketh away.”

Ann Wilson with the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association said its members are already paying tariffs on many of the components they import to make auto parts. Imposing additional barriers on the metals used to make those parts, she said, amounts to a “double tariff.”

“There is little doubt that the uncertainty and added costs the administration is creating will put U.S. investments and jobs at risk,” Wilson said.

Steel trade with Canada and Mexico is covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the president is relying on a provision of U.S. law that allows him to claim the imports represent a threat to national security.

Many observers believe the announcement Thursday is the latest effort to prod stalled negotiations over rewriting NAFTA, which Trump repeatedly promised to do during his campaign for president.

“This really is an attempt to strengthen the negotiating power of the U.S. when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA,” said Ned Hill, who teaches economic development at Ohio State University. “This is just very public, bare-knuckle negotiating.”

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump promised he would go after countries who “cheated” in trade, but we do not have a major trade imbalance with our friends and allies.

Trump breaks the law and jolts markets by teasing secret jobs numbers

President Donald Trump moved markets and busted norms on Friday morning with a tweet about the May employment report more than an hour before the numbers came out.

The post appeared to skirt strict rules on government employees not commenting on the highly sensitive economic data until an hour after its public release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Trump, who received the numbers Thursday night on Air Force One, did not include any of the jobs data in his tweet. But it appeared positive enough to suggest to Wall Street that a good number was coming Friday morning.

“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21 a.m.

And the numbers were in fact quite good, showing a better than expected gain of 223,000 jobs and a dip in unemployment to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since April of 2000, sending Dow futures higher.

But markets were already moving before the release and popped immediately after Trump’s tweet, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note moving higher along with stock market futures. The rise in the 10-year yield suggested traders assumed Trump’s tweet meant the jobs number would be strong and push the Fed to raise interest rates more quickly.

Former Obama administration officials pounced on Trump’s tweet even before the public got to see the numbers, saying it violated rules banning federal employees with access to the jobs data from saying anything at all about it until 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The one-hour lag is meant to allow the jobs data—compiled by non-partisan career employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics—to stand on its own without any immediate spin from elected officials.

“We took the one-hour delay 100 percent seriously,” Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, said in an interview. “There were times when there was a good number and they wanted to send the president out to talk about it, but Air Force One was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m. and we would tell them to delay the flight until after 9:30 a.m.”

Furman suggested Trump should no longer get the numbers in advance.

[Politico]

Trump wants a total ban on German luxury car imports

US President Donald Trump wants to escalate his trade war to include a total ban on German luxury cars, says a report in WirtschaftsWoche. According to the German publication, which says its report results from talking to several unnamed US and European diplomats, during French President Macron’s recent visit to Washington Trump told him that he would “maintain his trade policy until no Mercedes models rolled on Fifth Avenue in New York.”

This news follows news last week that Trump had already asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to launch an investigation into the national security threat posed by imported cars, trucks, and auto parts, as well as wanting to add 25 percent tariffs on imported vehicles. WirtschaftsWoche‘s article points out that just prior to his inauguration in 2017, Trump railed against the Mercedes-Benz vehicles he saw in New York.

When you walk down Fifth Avenue, everyone has a Mercedes-Benz in front of their house.” But that’s not reciprocity. “How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Not too many, maybe none at all, you do not see anything over there, it’s a one-way street,” said the real estate billionaire. Although he is for free trade, but not at any price: “I love free trade, but it must be a smart trade, so I call him fair.

The US market is extremely important for luxury German automakers, and a ban on importing new vehicles would be devastating for brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. But even if Trump gets his wish, an import ban is highly unlikely to have the effect he’s looking for. Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz maintain large manufacturing presences here in the US, in part because any vehicles they build and sell here are exempt from existing import tariffs.

BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, employs over 10,000 workers and produced more than 371,000 cars in 2017. The Mercedes-Benz factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, builds a similar number of vehicles, and just last year parent company Daimler invested $1.3 billion expanding the facility. Daimler also has a new factory in Charleston, South Carolina building Sprinter vans.

Daimler declined to comment on the proposed ban, but a spokesperson pointed out that the company supports more than 150,000 jobs here, and 22.8 percent of Daimler’s shareholders are from the US. Audi and BMW had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

[Ars Techina]

Fact-checking Trump’s Nashville speech

The good news about President Donald Trump’s speech in Nashville last night was that he didn’t mention Roseanne Barr, which could have made that controversy much, much worse. The bad news? Try all of the false, misleading and dishonest claims he made.

“[There’s] never been an administration — and even some of our enemies are admitting it — that has done what we’ve done in the first year and a half. Think of it”

The tax law has been Trump’s only major legislative achievement, and he ranks behind other past presidents in bills signed into law.

“We’ve created 3.3 million new jobs since Election Day. If we would have said that before the election — I’m going to create 3.3 million new jobs — would never have [survived the] onslaught from fake news. Wouldn’t have accepted it, said no way you can do that”

While there have indeed been 3.3 million jobs created in the 18 months since Election Day 2016 (Nov. 2016-April 2018), there were 3.9 million jobs created in the 18 months before Election Day (May 2015-Oct. 2016) — when Trump was criticizing the state of the U.S. economy.

“Wages for the first time in many years are finally going up”

That is false; wages also increased during the final years of Obama’s presidency, per PolitiFact.

“[Nancy Pelosi] loves MS-13”

Pelosi was objecting to Trump calling undocumented immigrants “animals”; the White House says he was referring to MS-13 in his “animals” remarks. Pelosi never said she loved MS-13.

“So how do you like the fact they had people infiltrating our campaign? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?”

On Fox News last night, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the FBI’s use of an informant for the 2016 Trump campaign was appropriate (see below for more).

“Mexico, I don’t want to cause a problem. But in the end, Mexico’s going to pay for the wall”

Mexico once again said it wasn’t paying for Trump’s wall. Here’s Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto: “President @realDonaldTrump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).”

“We passed largest tax cuts and reform in American history”

By either inflation-adjusted dollars or as a percentage of GDP, the tax legislation Trump signed into law last year ranks well below other tax laws, including those under Reagan or even Obama.

For an even more thorough account on Trump’s claims from last night, check out the feed from the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale.

[NBC News]

Media

Trump on Memorial Day: Those who died for US ‘would be very happy’ with how country is doing

President Trump marked Memorial Day in a tweet on Monday claiming that the nation’s fallen heroes “would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today.”

“Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more.” Trump tweeted. “Nice!”

Memorial Day is held annually to honor service members who died for the U.S.

Trump had tweeted a video in honor of the holiday earlier Monday.

The president is scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery later Monday morning.

He has often used Twitter to brag about the state of the economy under his administration. The black and Hispanic unemployment rates both reached record lows last month, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.

[The Hill]

Reality

Black unemployment rate:

Hispanic unemployment rate:

Trump eases firing of federal workers, cracks down on unions

President Donald Trump on Friday signed three executive orders designed to make it easier to fire federal government workers and to crack down on the unions that represent them, drawing immediate criticism from a group representing federal employees.

Administration officials said the orders would give government agencies greater ability to remove employees with “poor” performance, get “better deals” in union contracts and require federal employees with union responsibilities to spend less time on union work.

“Today the president is fulfilling his promise to promote more efficient government by reforming our civil service rules,” said Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, in a conference call with reporters.

“These executive orders will make it easier for agencies to remove poor-performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.”

The American Federation of Government Employees said in a statement that the moves intended to “strip federal employees of their decades-old right to representation at the worksite” and would hurt veterans, law enforcement officers and others.

“These executive orders will make it easier for agencies to remove poor-performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.”

The American Federation of Government Employees said in a statement that the moves intended to “strip federal employees of their decades-old right to representation at the worksite” and would hurt veterans, law enforcement officers and others.

[Reuters]

Trump touts unemployment drop — but a ‘WITCH HUNT’ remains on his mind

In a single tweet Friday, President Trump simultaneously hailed news of the lowest U.S. unemployment rate since 2000 and derided the ongoing special counsel probe of possible ties between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

“JUST OUT: 3.9% Unemployment. 4% is Broken! In the meantime, WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The tweet was the president’s first public comment on the unemployment rate falling to 3.9 percent — a development that Trump allies argued was evidence of his strong stewardship of the economy.

But the tweet belied the fact that the president remains irritated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation, which has dominated headlines, along with a payment made by Trump’s personal attorney to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Trump has repeatedly called the Russia probe a ‘WITCH HUNT,” saying that Mueller has no evidence of collusion and is trying to trap him into committing perjury.

The president and his aides have sought to highlight the progress Trump is making on multiple fronts, including in negotiations over the denuclearization of North Korea, while Democrats and the media focus on issues Trump claims are less important to real people.

Trump’s latest tweet came shortly before he was scheduled to leave the White House en route to Dallas, where he is speaking to an annual gathering of the National Rifle Association.

[Washington Post]

Reality

Wow, it’s almost like a trend thanks to Democratic policies.

Trump declares unemployment problem solved and announces plan to let low-skill guest workers in

At his Saturday night rally in Michigan, Donald Trump said that the nation’s employment problems are solved and announced that he is let low-skill workers come into the country to do agriculture work.

“And for the farmers, OK, it is going to get good. And we’re going to let your guest workers come in,” he said. “We’re going to have strong borders, but we have to have your workers come in… The employment picture is so good, so strong, that we have to let people in.

While talking a lot about the wall, Trump said that he would allow guest workers to come in. But, he said, he would then want them to leave.

“Guest workers. Don’t we agree? We have to have ’em,” he said.

The line got tepid applause.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing

The Trump administration says Native Americans might need to get a job if they want to keep their health care — a policy that tribal leaders say will threaten access to care and reverse centuries-old protections.

Tribal leaders want an exemption from new Medicaid work rules being introduced in several states, and they say there are precedents for health care exceptions. Native Americans don’t have to pay penalties for not having health coverage under Obamacare’s individual mandate, for instance.

But the Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. “HHS believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,” according to a review by administration lawyers.

The Health and Human Services Department confirmed it rebuffed the tribes’ request on the Medicaid rules several times. Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, conveyed the decision in January, and officials communicated it most recently at a meeting with the tribes this month. HHS’ ruling was driven by political appointees in the general counsel and civil rights offices, say three individuals with knowledge of the decision.

Senior HHS officials “have made it clear that HHS is open to considering other suggestions that tribes may have with respect to Medicaid community engagement demonstration projects,” spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said, using the administration’s term for work requirements that can also be fulfilled with job training, education and similar activities.

The tribes insist that any claim of “racial preference” is moot because they’re constitutionally protected as separate governments, dating back to treaties hammered out by President George Washington and reaffirmed in recent decades under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, including the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

“The United States has a legal responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans,” said Mary Smith, who was acting head of the Indian Health Service during the Obama administration and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. “It’s the largest prepaid health system in the world — they’ve paid through land and massacres — and now you’re going to take away health care and add a work requirement?”

Tribal leaders and public health advocates also worry that Medicaid work rules are just the start; President Donald Trump is eyeing similar changes across the nation’s welfare programs, which many of the nearly 3 million Native Americans rely on.

“It’s very troublesome,” said Caitrin McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board, noting that Native Americans suffer from the nation’s highest drug overdose death rates, among other health concerns. “There’s high unemployment in Indian country, and it’s going to create a barrier to accessing necessary Medicaid services.”

Native Americans’ unemployment rate of 12 percent in 2016 was nearly three times the U.S. average, partly because jobs are scarce on reservations. Low federal spending on the Indian Health Service has also left tribes dependent on Medicaid to fill coverage gaps.

“Without supplemental Medicaid resources, the Indian health system will not survive,” W. Ron Allen — a tribal leader who chairs CMS’ Tribal Technical Advisory Group — warned Verma in a Feb. 14 letter.

The Trump administration has allowed three states — Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana — to begin instituting Medicaid work requirements, and at least 10 other states have submitted or are preparing applications. More than 620,000 Native Americans live in those 13 states, according to 2014 Census data. And more states could move in that direction, heightening the impact.

Some states, like Arizona, are asking HHS for permission to exempt Native Americans from their proposed work requirements. But officials at the National Indian Health Board say that may be moot, as federal officials can reject state requests.

Tribal officials say their planning process has been complicated by HHS’ refusal to produce the actual documents detailing why Native Americans can’t be exempted from Medicaid work requirements. “The agency’s official response was that they couldn’t provide that [documentation] because of ongoing, unspecified litigation,” said Devin Delrow of the National Indian Health Board. HHS did not respond to a question about why those documents have not been made available.

While the tribes say they hope to avoid a legal fight, their go-to law firm — Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP — in February submitted a 33-page memo to the Trump administration, sternly warning officials that the health agency was violating its responsibilities.

“CMS has a duty to ensure that [Native Americans] are not subjected to state-imposed work requirements that would present a barrier to their participation in the Medicaid program,” the memo concludes. “CMS not only has ample legal authority to make such accommodations, it has a duty to require them.”

Meanwhile, tribal leaders say the Trump administration has signaled it may be seeking to renegotiate other aspects of the government’s relationship with Native Americans’ health care, pointing to a series of interactions they say break from tradition.

“This doesn’t seem to be isolated to the work requirements,” said McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board.

The Trump administration also targeted the Indian Health Service for significant cuts in last year’s budget, though Congress ignored those cuts in its omnibus funding package last month, H.R. 1625 (115). The White House budget this year proposed eliminating popular initiatives like the decades-old community health representative program — even though tribal health officials say it is essential.

Tribal officials noted that both HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan skipped HHS’ annual budget consultation with tribal leaders in Washington, D.C., last month. The secretary’s attendance is customary; then-HHS Secretary Tom Price joined last year. However, Azar canceled at the last minute. His scheduled replacement, Hargan, fell ill, so Associate Deputy Secretary Laura Caliguri participated in his place. That aggravated tribal leaders who were already concerned about the Trump administration’s policies.

Another point of contention for the tribes is that HHS’ civil rights office — while rejecting Native Americans’ Medicaid request on grounds that they’re seeking an illegal preference — simultaneously announced new protections sought by conservative religious groups.

HHS further stressed that the administration remains committed to Native Americans’ health.

“Secretary Azar, HHS, and the Trump administration have taken aggressive action and will continue to do so to improve the health and well-being for all American Indians and Alaska Natives,” according Oakley, of HHS.

But tribal leaders and public health experts say the administration’s record hasn’t matched its rhetoric. “Work requirements will be devastating,” said Smith, the former Indian Health Service acting director. “I don’t know how you would implement it. There are not jobs to be had on the reservation.”

[Politico]

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